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Orthodontic FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience after graduating from dental school. Orthodontists specialize in straightening teeth, correcting misaligned jaw structures, and improving the function of your smile.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

What’s the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great time to see an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens.

About one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any age is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How can I take care of my teeth if I’m wearing braces or a retainer?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask our office or your family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep the retainer safe in its container so it does not get lost or broken.
  • Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by our office. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, and can cause more plaque and potential cavities.
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

What are braces?

Braces are used by an orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile. There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:

  • Clear braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Invisible braces
  • Traditional metal braces

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces will vary, depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere from six to 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 22 months.

Do braces hurt?

Braces do not often hurt, though you may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. You should also floss daily to get between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. We can show you how to brush and floss properly once your braces are placed.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more vital that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Our office will work closely with your dentist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need.

What's the cost of braces?

Treatment cost varies, depending on the severity of the case. To receive a custom quote, please schedule your free consultation and we will be happy to go over the cost of braces with you.

To make treatment more affordable, we offer several payment plans and accept almost all insurances. We will be happy to check if your insurance will help pay for orthodontic treatment at your first visit. 

Do you take insurance?

Yes! We accept most insurances that cover orthodontic treatment. We will be happy to check if your insurance will help cover the treatment cost.  

Do I need a referral from a general dentist to make an appointment?

You do NOT need a referral from a dentist to schedule with us. That being said, it is extremely important that you see your dentist on a regular basis, especially during orthodontic treatment, to maintain good oral health. If you don’t have a regular dentist, we will be happy to refer you to one in the area. 

Do I need to have regular dental check-ups during treatment?

Absolutely! Braces can make it a bit tricky to maintain good oral hygiene. Seeing your dentist on a regular basis throughout treatment and putting in a valiant effort to brush and floss thoroughly will help keep whites spots from developing on your teeth. 

What foods can I eat with braces?

Once your braces are put on, our goal is to keep them on until treatment is finished. To avoid unwanted emergency visits and prolonging treatment time (the result of the braces coming off during treatment), please try to follow these guidelines during your time in braces. Foods to avoid:

Hard foods such as chips, pizza crust, nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, hard candy, and ice can damage the orthodontic wires and pop the braces off.

Soft and sticky foods such as Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Gummy Bears, caramels, taffy, etc., can cause an unpleasant mess in your braces and wires and may also pull off the braces.  

Chewing on fingernails, pens, and pencils should also be avoided, since these habits can pop off braces.

If you have any questions regarding your diet, Dr. Skanchy will be happy to help you.

What should I do if the braces are causing discomfort? 

During the first week after you get your braces or come in for an adjustment, minor tooth soreness is completely normal. This is an indicator that the cellular process is working normally and your teeth are moving closer to that perfect smile. Your lips and cheeks may also take a week or so to become accustomed to the braces and wires in your mouth.

To ease the soreness, their are a few things you can do. Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a great way to reduce discomfort. We recommend following the dosage instructions on the bottle.

If the braces are irritating your cheeks or lips, wax from Dr. Skanchy’s office can be placed to limit the discomfort. If a wire is poking or something has come loose, please call Dr. Skanchy’s office and we will get you in as soon as possible to correct the issue.

Can I play sports and instruments with braces?

Absolutely! You do not have to give up the things you love while in braces. We highly recommend wearing mouthguards made specifically for those wearing braces to enjoy better comfort and protection. You can get an orthodontic-specific mouthguard at nearly every major sporting goods store or online (Shock Doctor).

How long do I have to wear my retainer?

Once your braces are removed, Dr. Skanchy will give you specific instructions on how and when to wear your retainers. When braces are removed, it takes several months for the teeth and gums to become accustomed to their new location and become stable.

It’s very important that retainers are worn at least every night during this period. Every person’s teeth will behave differently when it comes to “relapse.” For this reason, we recommend night-time wear for as long as you want your teeth to stay put. 

What do I do if I lose my retainer?

Please don’t wait for your teeth to move to call and get a new retainer. It’s much much easier to keep your teeth straight rather than allow them to “relapse” and have try to get them straight again. Call Dr. Skanchy’s office as soon as possible once you realize your retainer is MIA and we will get you in to make you a new retainer. 

How can I avoid getting white spots on my teeth?

Good oral hygiene is especially important throughout orthodontic treatment. If oral hygiene is poor during orthodontic treatment, plaque will build up around the braces. Over time, plaque excretes acid which will break down the surface of your teeth.

If this process is not interrupted through proper brushings and a healthy diet, white spots may form on your teeth. Luckily, this is 100% preventable! When you get your braces, Dr. Skanchy and his staff will go over how to take care of your teeth properly while you’re in braces. 

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry American Dental Association
American Association of Orthodontists Invisalign Preferred Provider
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